So, here’s the part where everyone who’s been to Land’s End says, Land’s End? Why would you waste your time going there? It’s so touristy! The completely out-of-place Disney-esque attractions and the kitschy signpost you have to pay £5 to have your photo taken with are totally lame! And I’d be nodding my head, completely agreeing with them. Why someone felt the need to mar a beautiful natural landscape with a mini theme park/shopping center of sorts is beyond me. It’s ugly, and the area would be a lot more appealing without it, BUT if you can ignore the garish attractions for ten minutes as you walk past, there are a couple of easy hiking trails on the other side that make it totally worth hitting up Land’s End for an hour or two.
If you haven’t heard of Land’s End, it’s the western-most point of mainland Britain. A rugged landscape, surrounded by the sea, this was once a place of Cornish legends and tall tales, but today has become more of a tourist attraction for families with small children. However, once past the attractions, the areas in either direction from the Land’s End signpost have remained largely unspoiled, so it’s these areas that we explored on our tour of western Cornwall’s coast.
Hiking to Sennen Cove
On arriving at Land’s End, we were shocked to discover they would charge us £6 just to park there, so we turned around in the lot and went in search of somewhere else to park for free or cheap, but after 15 minutes of driving around, we found nowhere that looked safe from towing and grudgingly returned to the Land’s End lot. We were hoping the attendant wouldn’t recognize us, but he greeted us with a, Back again, are ya?, and we could tell from the expression on his face that he knew exactly what we’d tried to do.
Refusing to give the commercial side of Land’s End any more of our money, we bypassed all the shops, even the ones with donuts, and got started right away on our first trail – Land’s End to Sennen Cove, approximately 1.3 miles one way. It was an overcast, foggy day which meant we could only just barely make out the Longships Lighthouse, a mile and a half off shore from Land’s End. (The name comes from the rocks that surround it which resemble Viking ships sailing on the water.) Between the fog and the landscape that reminded us so much of Ireland, I was beginning to see why there were so many stories written about this place. It was so eerie walking through the fog and only occasionally getting a glimpse of anything past the shore.
This trail was easy, mostly flat, and even with me stopping every few feet to take a photo, we still made it to Sennen in under forty minutes. Besides the small town on the beach, there is an old coastguard lookout up here from which there are some pretty incredible views, even on a cloudy day. We stayed for a bit and then made our way back to Land’s End. A man we met in the parking lot had seen our cameras and recommended we walk a trail going the opposite direction of Sennen as well, so we were off to do that next.
we I got a little sidetracked. On the other side of Land’s End was Greeb Farm, and there were sheep and chickens, and my heart just about burst open in my chest. I even cried a little, I’ll admit it. Sometimes I miss our old life so much I can hardly bear it, but today these were happy tears. These animals, so used to humans roaming about, would actually let me pet them and love on them. You want to make me genuinely happy? Just take me to a farm and give me something soft and fluffy to hold. I’ll love you forever.
I really didn’t want to leave, but our goal was to drive the whole coast from Penzance to St. Ives in the same day, stopping along the way to hike and see places, so our time was limited. We ended up missing two places I’d wanted to see – Botallack and Pendeen Watch – because of this extra hike and farm detour, but it was totally worth it. We’ll catch those places next time we’re in Cornwall.
Hiking South of Land’s End
Our second hike took us just under a mile away from Land’s End. This one was also fairly flat and easy to follow thanks to the well-worn path along the coast. At this point in the day, the sun finally came out and started burning off some of the fog and we could finally see what was out in the water. This view definitely made us feel like we were back in western Ireland! The cliffs jutting out into the sea and the passageways running through the rocks in the water were very similar to what we saw on the Loop Head Peninsula Drive in County Clare. I could take a walk every day through a landscape like this and never get tired of it. I owe that random dude in the parking lot for telling us about this side of Land’s End – otherwise, we’d surely have missed it!
We walked a total of four miles along the coast here and loved every bit of it. That £6 we paid for parking ended up being totally worth it. So, if some well-meaning person tells you to avoid Land’s End, keep in mind this isn’t just a tourist trap – there is still a lot of unspoiled scenery worth checking out here and you just might want to make a stop anyway!
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